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Brewer programme supports agriculture transformation towards middle income status

SUPPORTING farmers through its agri business programme is one of the Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) priorities aimed at complimenting government efforts to make its people graduate to the middle income status by 2025.

In this project, the brewer supplies farmers with inputs to boost their yields that in turn used as ingredients for its beer production.

To accelerate sustainable and inclusive growth and development in Africa, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) underscored an urgent need for fostering a new development approach based on exploiting the full agribusiness potential of the continent.

This could focus on increasing agro-industrial value added and employment along the entire agribusiness value chain in agriculture, industry and services.

The Tanzania smallholder farmers dominate agriculture production, with more than 90 per cent of cultivated land.

The sector provides about 65.5 per cent of employment, livelihood to more than 70 per cent of population, 29 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, 30 per cent of exports and 65 per cent of inputs to the industrial sector.

About three out of four households report to have agriculture as their main activity. Even urban households, to a certain extent, are still involved in crop production.

Typically, farmers produce to feed their families but they also expect to gain revenues by selling their output.

When farmers make more income from the sale of their produce, it leads to more development in the rural areas which ultimately impacts positively on the overall economy.

With the world population expected to reach almost 10 billion in 2050, bold actions would be required to achieve higher productivity and social, economic and environmental sustainable growth in the agriculture and agro-industrial sector.

The dissemination of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can further leverage the capacity of farmers to innovate and launch a new business.

These technologies connect small farmers to markets, reduce transaction costs and mitigate risks as well as establish new possibilities for education and technical training in remote rural areas.

Over five years ago, SBL, the second largest beer-maker in the country introduced the agri-business programme, popularly known as the Local Raw Materials Project (LRM) which now is impacting positively the lives of over 400 farmers across the country assuring them a reliable market for their crops.

According to SBL’s Managing Director Mark Occiti, the farmers’ support programme entails providing farmers with free high quality seeds, linking them to financial institutions to acquire capital needed for large scale farming as well as with suppliers of fertilizers and other farming inputs.

In return, SBL buys all the produce from the farmers enabling them to repay borrowed capital to turn around their living standards and those of their dependents.

“SBL currently sources about 15,300 tons of locally produced grains annually from a network of 400 farmers across the country. This is equivalent to 68 per cent of SBL total raw material requirement a year,” Occiti says.

He adds that the brewer plans to increase its sourcing of maize, sorghum and barley from local growers to over 17 tonnes in 2020 as part of the company’s ambitious expansion in its beer production.

Recently, UNIDO in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union (AU), together with numerous additional partners, launched the flagship initiative to accelerate youth employment in agriculture and agribusiness in Africa.

African agribusinesses are expected to create a market worth 1 trillion US dollars by 2030, so agriculture and agribusiness have an invaluable and untapped potential to address the youth unemployment challenge.

Statistics show that Africa has the youngest population in the world, with more than 600 million young people in the labour market.

The initiative aims to enhance the business ecosystem by creating more jobs and opportunities for African youth.

Its main focus is to provide technical assistance, capacity development and knowledge exchange to youth enterprises by prioritizing agricultural value chains.

As such, responsible agricultural investment to develop rural areas and reduce urban-rural disparity through public-private partnerships is fundamental.

Kibaisi Mayideshi is one of the beneficiary farmers from the LRM project in Manyara region and who relishes working with SBL because of the resultant benefits he gets from the collaboration.

The father of four children says the programme has completely changed his life and that of his family.

Commending SBL for coming to his and other farmers’ aid, Mayideshi says: “the biggest problem we had was the market for our produce. We produced but the place to sell was a problem. We thank SBL as we are now sure of the market and even the price we are offered is very competitive,” He has been able to build a modern house, he says-and can now comfortably pay school fees for his children.

“My family is really happy; thanks to SBL, we are now living comfortably and school fees for the children are no longer a problem,” he added.

AFTER the completion of 1.7bn/-worth of development projects ...

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Author: BUSINESS STANDARD Reporter

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